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A Conversation with Icons Queen Latifah and LL COOL J

Dominic Patten
Senior Editor at Deadline Hollywood
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SXSW 2021
March 16, 2021, Online, Austin, USA
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A Conversation with Icons Queen Latifah and LL COOL J
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About speakers

Dominic Patten
Senior Editor at Deadline Hollywood
Queen Latifah
Artist, television and film actress, producer, label president at Flavor Unit Entertainment
James Todd Smith
Founder & CEO at Rock The Bells

Dominic covers litigious Hollywood’s major lawsuits and weighs in on the current Golden Age of television with his video reviews and more. Before joining Deadline in 2012, he wrote for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, and the Toronto Globe and Mail. A frequent guest on NPR, Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC and CBS, he also has been a documentary director, TV producer, national news correspondent and a newspaper editor.

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Queen Latifah is an Oscar-nominated, Grammy and Golden Globe award-winning artist, television and film actress, producer, label president, author and entrepreneur.Under the Flavor Unit Entertainment banner with producing partner Shakim Compere, Latifah will produce and star in Ray Giarratana’s The Tiger Rising and Netflix’s End of the Road. Latifah will also star in Hustle, Paper Chase, and she is currently in production for CBS’ The Equalizer.

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As a two-time Grammy® Award winning Hip-Hop icon, Kennedy Center Honoree, recording artist, actor, author, NAACP Image Award winner, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and CEO of Rock The Bells, LL COOL J has created one of the most multifaceted careers and brands in entertainment and continues to display his wide range of talents with every project. Three decades after he first burst onto the scene, LL COOL J continues his vibrant, trailblazing career.

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About the talk

From the mic to the big screen, award-winning rappers, actors and producers Queen Latifah and LL COOL J have been major forces in the entertainment industry for over three decades. Starring in the CBS series THE EQUALIZER and NCIS: LOS ANGELES respectively, Queen Latifah executive produces and stars as the first female Equalizer, Robyn McCall, in the reimagining of the series, and LL COOL J stars as Special Agent Sam Hanna in NCIS: LOS ANGELES, now in its 12th season. Join them for a lively, in-depth conversation about their illustrious careers in music, television and movies (in front and behind the cameras), the cultural resonance and timeliness of their series, and much more. #Queen+LL

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Hello, I'm Dominique Haddon senior editor for deadline Hollywood and thank you for joining us today. For this 2021, South by Southwest on-line featured speaker panel, which I have the rare pleasure as both, a Critic and a fan of being joined today, but not in like two of the legends of Hip Hop, but you artists who have broken through barriers and cross me and John R Us to become Network Primetime, star ncis's, and Kennedy Center honoree. First of the hip-hop generation, I might add LL Cool J and the queen and the equalizer herself. Queen Latifah, welcome to both of you

as your 1989 hit single set queen ladies first. So let me start with you or debuted very strong for CVS after it's Super Bowl Premier. This year has settled into Sunday nights with NCIS. Transition been for you. Both revitalizing a franchise on the small and big screen and hitting Primetime again in your career. First of all, I'm very thankful to be where we are Sundaes at 8, right? Before NCIS LA, you couldn't ask for a better place to be, we just hope to be the lead in that slides right there and

just sit comfortably so that my brother can come on the screen and just smashed. But, you know, they kind of laid, the groundwork, they set it up. If he did up for us to be there, you know, we got them the benefit of having the Super Bowl, which is just inconceivable. But now, to be there with NCIS LA every week, is going to be to me or an amazing complimentary night of just action and Intrigue and and, and diversity. And I don't change the channel night and that's what you want. You want to just like, boom, hit it, leave it on. CBS stay there, sent their

children to take your brakes. Come back. And what did I miss you? No kind of thing. So I feel really fortunate that we are, you know, send me a CBS show because I think it's the perfect show to CVS, and that we are located where we are different things about this. Equaliser as best of us who may be grew up on the original and then, of course, or the Denzel movie, you're the first female equalizer. Always been a man and woman of color. What do you think that says network television in 2021? We need to catch up to me, more reflective of

what real-life will be. Anyway, it's a great step for CVS is a network is a great example. For all the other networks who aren't may be doing the same thing and you need to catch up LOL and myself, come from families of strong women. You know, Grandmama told him knock you out, you know what I mean? So, he knows what it is. To be influenced by a woman strength. I know what it is. To be employed by a woman strength, so he isn't the first time The Equalizer is being seen as Woman. But it doesn't mean that women. Haven't been equalizing for eons is just an opportunity for you to get to see one.

Do it on television in this particular wrong. I mean I spend a great deal of my career changing roles. Not having the luxury of being 5ft 230 lb or less white blue eyes, you know, blonde hair. This is not new for me to step into the role that is different order or to Tamika Mega roll my own to put myself into it and change it to 2. What what it looks like Through My Lens talk about it. 12 years on NCIS LA big. Oh no, no taken away from that. You're a two-time Grammy winner.

Multiple Grammy host multiple NAACP. Winner and so much more but I really want to know and I know you and I have talked before, what did it mean to you to get that Kennedy Center honoree in 2017? Because you broke a ton more barriers with that move. Everywhere I Go. For me, it was more about all of the people that came before me and pay the way and kind of taking the coat fit into that. Rarefied are taking a coach into the building, all the artist that I've Loved all the icons and all of the people that contributed who may be of lesser known. But had made a huge contribution to the

coaches even though they're not as known in mainstream in the mainstream world. So just keep your Consciousness in the right space and keep striving to do great things in. That was definitely inspiring for me. And told me it's not me that what I've been doing. This fog was worth it and I should continue to do even more ancient as the queen requests was part of the presentation. When you receive the Kennedy Center on rake back in the day for me, I just started off, you know, you know, being a fan of a music space-themed. Don't don't don't don't don't, don't don't

Like we see each other may be brought together, we might get some shows together. I don't know who I don't need any more together. We may have done some concerts together for sure, very first rhyme to LL, Cool, J's. I need to be. Yes, I was in a rap group, as a teenager and that we had to battle these other another female rap group, and it was three and a half minute was only two that wrapped in our group. I've been hit the beatbox and so, just to even it out, I

had a ride, I had to ride around and saw it with my brother's room and not the one, I need a big flip that bottle or it just like the one. Instrumental mean we had like in a lot of ways, you know, because he Was it the normal rapper when he was young when he started? But he was so diverse in the type of music that it may remember. I remember when the first hip hop artist to go and do a ballad and and when you did I need I need Yeah, that was my girls kissing. The poster on the wall, type stuff. You do to me, like, all across the world, like, you standing there. Like, you

actually with him, you know, he became a real person to you and you on that poster on your wall. Like no one, no one in hip-hop had ever done any no screen careers would have done stuff that nobody have done. We're going to talk about a lot of that and the transitions, which are very, very important. As I said, the intro barrier and John R and medium breaking up before we do that. Take a little look at all those years of LL. Cool, J in NCIS Can we go to Swiss re

just Sam? Hanna NCIS We got a case of the word assignment makes it sound so official. Good. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work. A plug lock. That was smooth next level. I meditated normal when you're meditating. How to get me love. Makes it all the more worth fighting for on this team. Had the privilege of working with you, Eddie. watch NCIS Los Angeles Sundays or stream anytime on CBS Then Hannah is one cool guy. Let's be clear about that. You know, you've been playing this role. What do people talk about Network careers? 12 years is a, you're laying down some marks there.

Over the 12 years are playing salmon. Ncisla, is there a new perspective? The character new and fresh every year, I think the main thing on that level was just never the phone in in constantly, you no respect the material. Still pay attention, keep your acting teacher close by and you know, really, you know, go to the material and approach with humility to always just sit, just really, really do your absolute best every day. And here we are 12 Seasons later or break. You know that thank you for the natural transition LL vehicle iser first season. So, before we talk about them,

we've already talked about it a little bit. Let's take a look at this trailer for CVS is The Equalizer 2 starring Queen Latifah. Say hello, who are you? CIA. They Want You Back Robin. You're the best. They had. I'm using my powers for good. You really think she can help if anyone can? when I can't sleep, because all the things I've done, it's all the people I couldn't say How many are out there with nowhere to turn? We have some way to turn to me. I'm the one you call. Beach and call, 911

watch The Equalizer new Sunday's 8 7, Central or stream anytime on CBS Wow, well, Queen. Yes, you are. The one we call. We can't call 911 or you have many, many other TV roles over the years that you had your own talk show for two seasons. You're an Academy Award nominee. You're a Grammy winner. You've been multiple nominations for The Equalizer? Does feel like something different in your career for you. I think it allows me to bring together Under One Roof. So

many different skills. If you will, that I've acquired through the years and things that I've learned that, I never thought I would need you around motorcycles, but I ride motorcycles for fun. I didn't know, I need to ride them in the TV show. Well, first of all, I'm a highly respected, stuntmen and women, they do the heavy lifting, I do as much as I can. And what what is required and what looks good, and what was Fine. I mean I enjoyed it. I'm not afraid to do anything that that you saw in that trailer

motorcycle to but I'm not too sure I'd do some of that. Some of that I'm definitely not doing more at that point, but we just the type of people that need to know what we're made of some time. So you push yourself in a way that you I don't have to do this. I'm sure at this point in my career and neither does he is just that you kind of want to know sometimes what you made of what you do, you know what you do. So, you challenge yourself with things like this in, for me. Like, this is, this is the role of a lifetime I need to use different. So many different elements

and it's, it's not just about the Gunplay, you know, course. I mean, I'm like, I'm a cop's kid. So, like, some people born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I was born. Nickel-plated 38 M, yet gotten normal in my phone but you don't to be able to have the softer sides of this little more intimate parts of it to have a 15 year old daughter in this show and she's going to challenge me on so many levels that I think you have not been able to see what the other two equalizers, who are much more stoic characters. This Robin is a little more loose. She knows how to cut it off when it's time to

cut it off that easy part you know what she's doing her job. That's the easy part for dealing with a daughter and being and finessing that and of course having so much love in that household is much different. Also being able to show several generations of black woman in one household. I didn't want Robin. This particular version of Robin McCall to be someone who had to answer to no one. I felt like I needed to have someone at least one. Person who could just kind of cool, my skirt that we found in Lorraine Toussaint and she is that

character, but she's not the typical person. She's just like, you know, she's a spunky and she's more of a collector type of person. She's not like just elegant and driving a bins and he knows he's funky. I just think we're going to have a lot of fun with this version of of of of these characters more texture than we're used to seeing on Primetime TV is they don't have very strong moral compasses. And I know that that's true of both of you and a question, I guess I have them. As I said, in the intro is both a

fan and a Critic. What is it? Like, for you guys? As you know Queen you said it just now. You don't have to do this. You've been you guys have been at this game a long time what are some of the responsibilities? And if you don't mind me asking pressures, I'm being Legends Legends, you are living and working as they're still in the public eye? Well, I think, you know, when you do, you know, when you follow your intuition and you have faith in you, and you really worked towards your goals in your dreams. And, you know, if you understand the humility for superpower, there is no real pressure. The

pressure has to be, it has to come from inside of you. The pressure has to be you pushing yourself to do great things, and you pushing yourself to go to that that next level and constantly achieve goals. And then set new goal of who idea is simple. I just felt like, you know, three hundred years from now. I want to make sure that the narrative is right about the culture, you know, I've seen things happen in rock and roll seen things happened in the Blues where, you know, artists of Forgotten any becomes, like a popularity contest where the people who are the chart

Toppers of the only ones that are remembered and everybody else kind of gets pushed to the side. And I don't think that that's the way that classic and timeless. No, hip hop is an American art forms with global. If it is, basically the entire pop culture today and I feel like rock the bells, we created this company to make sure I can ensure that that this is genre is treated right? That the artist of celebrated that the music is celebrated that we don't we not trying to exclude to use will not, you know, where is Bridging. The Gap band bracelet. We got love

for them. We want to see them succeed, but we also take care of the roof and take care of fruits with influencing with power. Ultimately you have to take responsibility, you have to step up. Its it's not about the pressure pushing you down. It's about you being equal to the situation and in rock the bells. You know, we got the channel on Sirius XM. You know, it's unbelievable about Maine and half listen to Delhi. Now said over 7 million, people are embracing it enjoying it, Queen has done things, like different people, the whole Thank you for

reminding people of people who've been forgotten or people who like did we know one song but we don't know those albums that were done and all that. It's not only that you know what it really is is celebrating people that should be celebrated. What kind of would like what were marginalized? Yeah. The system and how it treats black artist when they get to a certain point. When you have the top of the charger you can be on every cover. As soon as you're not on the top of the charts. Sometimes they get treated, like, Commodities your treatment have to be based on your current

chart position to you. I mean, I would like to ask the same question to you about being a living legend, I know that you do so much work still in the culture. What is the advice you would give a younger artists? Maybe they've got a couple of a couple of albums out or they've done a couple of movies and they're looking at your career, a female artist, or a male artist for that matter or anybody else. What would you say to them? And say, look, he's how I got here and here's what I did and he mistakes and he

was how I saw the road. I would say, I have to charge you $0.20 for that cuz that would make me your manager. Nacho friends. No, no, no, this information is free. People have to be true to themselves. First of all, they have to figure out who they are because everyone has something unique to offer. And when you doing what you do, then you bring something new to in something fresh. Even if you talk about the same thing that everybody else is, so I'm sure LOL is listen to little baby or the baby

or you know Rhapsody or younger artists that out right now cuz we love music so it really doesn't matter what the group is we do hip hop, we love you know, to hear something new and fresh. Do we have somebody do it, like, hip hop, it transcends time but I think it's important, you know, for people to just first of all, do it their way so that they can bring something new to the game, something fresh to the game. Also, to keep people around you that are Moving in the right direction, kind of lifting up, rather than pull you back for you down because that's a real quick way to be gone. You

know to be here in here. One day and gone tomorrow you can have people around you who can tell you the truth, help you to keep your feet on Solid Ground because this thinking shoot you to the moon like Spain is a crazy thing you know so you go from being like that cuz you making beats on your computer in your room on your house to all the sudden like everybody knows who you are and people are downloading your records and you like somebody that is an adjustment that you have to become famous in order to to understand what it feels like to lose your anonymity. You know the kind of go from

being able to walk wherever you want to walk to the right people. Looking at you and you know, analyzing everything going and then just no one like you know, you are who you are. You got a hold of that stuff that you do, you know? So you don't think before you act, if you can, you don't think about what you doing. About your life in 20 years. Don't think of it as a two-year career a journey. I don't know where it's taking us and when I said I don't have to do this do this it wasn't a sense that I don't have to do this. Like I'm sitting on so much cash. I don't have to do this. What

I mean is I choose an easier job. You know what I mean? That don't make me work as hard but something in me wants me to chat once I need to be challenged in a certain way that I actually enjoy and although it's so hard when you hit that thing out the park. I mean you swing and you swinging swaying using you miss so many times. But when you connect, it's like nothing. Like that's me. That's what I'm hoping that we do with the equalizer that we just like You know he was here that that that hit of that back and you just hear what it sounds. You knock that thing out the park,

you know, I encourage all of the all of the up-and-coming artists who have dreams and talents and gifts that are not just about music, but you don't think about. If, if you love acting, if you love you. Making clothing, whatever it is, you know, if you love design of some other type of you, an artist who loves to draw, just because you doing one thing that could be just your entry point in Hip Hop, was the entry point both, you know, but what we're doing right now is the is the gift of hip hop in that entry point for more doors and more possibility, start opening up to you. So meet me

and we'll get a show of course that you don't have me and you like old men. Are we looking at Ice Cube? I can do that. We're looking at each other, like we're feeding off of each other's success. Also seen each other open doors and was like, oh if one can do it then we can. All probably do it. Let's give it a shot and I don't know, Queen you have a music management company at production companies you guys have been producers. It's on both sides of the camera and in in in that I guess and thank you guys for

joining us today and things we can talk about it and I don't think South by Southwest even know where online or going to go. Let's go that long with twins and turn it into a miniseries or a limited series. As you guys look at where you are in your career and you looking and queen, you talk about this, looking at each other looking at other artists. What was LOL start with you. What was the biggest challenge that came along in your career that for you was the defining moment that said, this is the kind of artist I'm going to be and this is the kind of artist. I'm not going to be I think

you know, to be honest with you, man, the biggest challenge was just getting in the game. I mean, everything after that. And gravy they really probably just yeah you got to me. I mean, that's what you think it was even harder. Then I just can get your, get your foot in the door with something and then the chief open, you know. It's crazy. You know, we're going to see an equaliser ncisla crossover. I mean, I don't know. But yeah, that sounds awesome. Equalizers a leading to go there and finish the story on NCIS LA. I think it would be great.

Are you back out to the East Coast or, you know, I would bring up and take me to the West. That's the way to go, New York, strong, all the rest of my life but allies my home. Now listen, I want to thank both of you so much for joining us today was an honor for me. I hope everyone who is watching us at home or wherever you're watching this on your tablet, or your phone or whatever, you don't get to meet these kind of people very often. These are legends living legend.

Remember if you want to see more of LL, Cool. J and Queen Latifah, The Equalizer and NCIS Los Angeles air Sunday, on CBS and of course you can catch up with both shows on Paramount. Plus I'm Dominic patent for deadline Hollywood. Thank you so much for joining us. Hope to see you again.

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Dominic Patten
Queen Latifah
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